wikiHow to Avoid Common Spelling Mistakes when Writing a wikiHow Article

Two Methods:Spelling Help

Good spelling is important when you are writing for a wide audience so it is important to spell-check carefully. However, there are some errors that no software will pick up because what you have typed is a word, just not the one you needed! Here are some of the most common errors and how to spot them.

Spelling Help

Spelling Rules Cheat Sheet

Common Misspellings

Spelling Tips and Tricks

  1. Image titled Avoid Common Spelling Mistakes when Writing a wikiHow Article Step 1
    Watch out for homophones. These are words which sound the same, but are spelled differently: commonly confused on wikiHow are:
    • allowed/aloud - allowed means permitted, whereas aloud has the same meaning as out loud
    • bored/board - bored means to have lost interest; a board is a flat piece of wood
    • break/brake - break means to damage, but brake is what you do to slow down a car or a bicycle
    • new/knew - new is the opposite of old whereas knew is the past tense of to know
    • past/passed - past is earlier in time; passed can mean that you did not fail a class or that you went by someone
    • piece/peace - a piece is a part of something (it even has the word pie as its first three letters!); peace on the other hand means absence of noise or hostility
    • sure/shore - sure means certain, but shore means the beach or coastline
    • site/sight - site is the correct spelling when you mean the place where something sits - like a website! Sight on the other hand means something you can see.
    • stairs/stares - stairs are steps; stares is a verb meaning to gaze intently
    • steel/steal - steel is a metal, whereas steal means to take something that does not belong to you
    • they're/their/there They're is a shorter way to say they are. Their is possessive - it's their fault. There is a place - over there.
    • through/threw - through is a direction (as in straight through the door), but threw is the past tense of throw
    • to/too/two - Two naughty boys who went too far went to jail.
    • whether/weather - whether indicates a choice - whether or not, whereas weather means sun. rain, snow etc.
    • which/witch - Which witch is the wicked witch? (apologies to all witch's!)
    • whole/hole - whole means complete whereas hole means a gap or space where something is missing
    • right/write - right means correct or the opposite of left, but write means to compose (words or music)
    • your/you're - your is a possessive pronoun, and you're is a contraction, as in saying "You're really good at writing articles."
  2. Image titled Avoid Common Spelling Mistakes when Writing a wikiHow Article Step 2
    Use apostrophes correctly:
    • it’s and its cause problems for many people. it’s means ‘it is’ whereas its is the possessive form. Possessive pronouns his, hers and its are the only possessive forms which do NOT have an apostrophe - hence the confusion. The dog wagged its tail.
    • Other than that, use an apostrophe where one or two letters have been missed out when a word has been contracted - eg. where is becomes where's. Plurals do NOT need an apostrophe.
    • Plural possessives have the apostrophes after the s. The dogs' tails wagged in excitement.
  3. Image titled Avoid Common Spelling Mistakes when Writing a wikiHow Article Step 3
    Be aware of noun and verb differences in words like:
    • advice/advise advice is the noun whereas advise is the verb
    • practice/practice practice is the noun and practice is the verb (in British English)
    • affect/effect - affect is a verb , effect is a noun. So you talk about the effect of something, but affecting someone. Another easy way to remember this is affect = affection while effect = cause and effect.
  4. Image titled Avoid Common Spelling Mistakes when Writing a wikiHow Article Step 4
    Watch out for words that look similar:
    • dose/does
    • of/off
    • quiet/quite
    • chose/choose
    • lose/loose
    • accept/except
  5. Image titled Avoid Common Spelling Mistakes when Writing a wikiHow Article Step 5
    Take care not to write ‘of’ instead of ‘have’ after modal verbs such as would, could, should, must, may and might. The confusion comes from the contraction - would have becomes would've which sounds like ‘would of’.


  • American English uses -ize where British English uses -ise in words like socialise/socialize. Both are correct, provided you are consistent throughout the article.
  • There are significant differences in spelling between the different varieties of English used all over the world, and that includes spelling conventions.
  • American English omits the u in words like color and honor, where British English retains it - colour and honour.
  • Embrace the glorious variety! It could be worse - in Tudor England there were no spelling conventions and people spelled as they wished. It makes for interesting reading!
  • The colour is grey in British English, but gray in American English.
  • British English doubles the l at the end of words like travel when adding a suffix - American English does not.

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Categories: Spelling | Writing and Editing